Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu. -- NSTP File Pix

KUALA LUMPUR: Irresponsible management by the previous federal government had led to thousands of Armed Forces family homes (RKAT) being left in dilapidated condition.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said that this resulted in 12,261 (or 22.5 per cent) of the 54,497 houses being declared unsafe for occupation after being severely damaged.

“The previous federal government was insensitive to the housing needs of the Armed Forces personnel, by their incompetent management of their homes.

“We have since discovered various weaknesses in their maintenance management planning, as well as in adhering to the regulations.

“This has led to many houses being damaged and left idle,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Mohamad said safe and comfortable homes were key elements to guarantee the well-being of soldiers.

“It will also directly uplift the morale of soldiers, many of whom have greatly sacrificed while serving in operations throughout the year.

“They will continue to serve the nation credibly, knowing well that their families have a safe and comfortable abode to live in,” he said.

Mohamad reminded Malaysians that the comfort and peace enjoyed by all, came through the blood and sweat of these servicemen.

Mohamad added that from 2016 until last year, only 2,447 houses were approved for repairs, which was far from the 8,724 units that were initially planned.

Additionally, he said, out of the total of 26,487 complaints made for maintenance over three years from 2015, only 17,014 (or 64.2 per cent) were settled.

Under the 2020 Budget, the Defence Ministry has been allocated RM150 million to repair 6,000 Armed Forces family homes.

“This is in line with the government’s ‘repair, replace and restore’ policy.

“My ministry will ensure that the houses are safe and comfortable for occupancy by soldiers of all levels,” he said.

Mohamad added that a pilot project this year saw 1,947 homes nationwide being maintained at a cost of RM50 million.

“We have also taken cognizance of the Auditor-General’s recommendations to plan preventive maintenance especially of water pipes and lifts.

“At the same time, we want to improve maintenance contract processing and ensure compliance with internal regulations to avoid abuse of funds,” he said.